Global Engagement


J-1 Exchange Visitors

The US Department of State (DOS) administers the J Exchange Visitor category to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. The overall purpose of that Act, and the objective of the Exchange Visitor category, is “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.” (NAFSA Advisors Manual).  For more information about the Exchange Visitor program, you can view the J-1 Welcome Brochure published by the United States Department of State.

Individuals coming to the US as Exchange Visitors enter the country in a variety of categories set by the US Department of State. Currently, Clemson University is authorized to sponsor J-1 Exchange Visitors in the following categories: Student, Non-Degree Student, Short-Term Scholar, Research Scholar, Professor, and Specialist. See definitions below.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories at Clemson University

Student: International students may join Clemson as full-time degree-seeking students in J-1 status. While there are some minor differences between J-1 and F-1 students, the primary reason why individuals enter the US as J-1 students is based on the source of funding they receive.  Students receiving funding from other sources, such as non-governmental organizations, usually also enter the US in J-1 status. Students must demonstrate adequate funds for the entire period of study in the US, so the J-1 status is not used by the majority of international students. Students who receive funding from the government of their home country or the US (e.g. Fulbright) are issued a DS-2019 so they may apply for a J-1 visa.

Non-Degree Student In some cases, Clemson University will issue a DS-2019 to an international to enter the US as a non-degree student.  There is a 24 month maximum stay for non-degree students. For more information on Clemson University’s Exchange Programs, please contact the Office of Global Education (OGE) Study Abroad Office. Individuals who are eligible for this Exchange Visitor category are participants in an academic exchange program between Clemson University and a foreign academic institution, or through a Memorandum of Understanding between the schools

Short-Term Scholar: An individual sponsored by a Clemson department to join the University as a short-term scholar enters the US for a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or instructing in special skills. This category has a maximum stay of six months. As with all Exchange Visitor categories, this is a non-tenured track position.

Research Scholar An individual sponsored by a Clemson department to join the University for the purpose of conducting research, observing, or consulting on a research project. A Research Scholar may also teach or lecture at the discretion of the sponsor. This category has a maximum stay of five years. As with all Exchange Visitor categories, this is a non-tenured track position.

Professor An individual sponsored by a Clemson department to join the University for the purpose of teaching or lecturing. A Professor may conduct research at the discretion of the sponsor. This category has a maximum stay of five years. As with all Exchange Visitor categories, this is a non-tenured track position.

Specialist A specialist is a expert in a field of specialized knowledge/skill that is sponsored by a Clemson department for the purpose of observing, consulting, or demonstrating the special knowledge or skill. This category has a maximum stay of one year. As with all Exchange Visitor categories, this is a non-tenured track position.

Information for Individuals in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Category

J-1 Students: If you are joining Clemson University as part of a full-time degree-seeking program, please visit the new student section of our website for pertinent information. If you are joining Clemson University as a non-degree student as part of an exchange program with one of our partner institutions, please visit the new student section of our website for pertinent information. In addition, you should visit the exchange student section of our website.

J-1 Short-term Scholars, Research Scholars, Professors and Specialists

Pre-departure Information: After you have received your immigration documents and reviewed them, the next step is to set an appointment with the US Consulate for your visa application. If you are not sure which US Embassy or Consulate is closet to you, please visit the US Department of State website for a list of US missions around the world: Once you have found the Consulate closest to you, please visit the “visa” section of the Consulate's website to learn about the required procedures for setting an appointment and how to prepare for your interview.

All individuals seeking a new Exchange Visitors J-1 visa are required to pay the SEVIS Fee at least three business days prior to their visa interview. You may find more information on the SEVIS Fee, as well as how to pay, by visiting Please note, if you are a Canadian citizen, although you do not need a J-1 visa to enter the US, you are required to pay the SEVIS Fee at least three business days prior to your entry into the US.

When your DS-2019 was sent to you, our office included a copy of “A Planning Guide for International Students and Visiting Scholars” with information to prepare you to come to the US and begin your studies. Please review the booklet carefully to see if there is anything special that you need to prepare. In addition to this booklet, a list of international organizations at Clemson University was sent to you. These organizations are a great resource for incoming Exchange Visitors.

As a new Exchange Visitor, you are permitted to enter the US no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of your program at Clemson University. The start date can be found in Section 3 of your DS-2019. When purchasing your air ticket, it is important to keep these dates in mind as you may be denied entry should you arrive in the US prior to that 30-day period.

When You Arrive On-Campus: Once you have arrived and settled in, please complete the international scholar check-in process by scanning the following documents to IS-205, DS-2019, passport, visa, and I-94 card (you will obtain this at the US airport in which you enter) and proof on health insurance (Form IS-206). Please remember to take this very important step in maintaining your immigration status in the US. See the Maintaining Status information below.

Maintaining Your J-1 Exchange Visitor Status

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, it is necessary to become familiar with the maintenance of your non-immigrant status while in the US. While the steps to follow to keep your J-1 status valid are simple, please review the information found below. As an Exchange Visitor, maintaining your status is your responsibility. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact International Services (IS) for assistance.

  1. Engage only in the activities permitted by the program and category of your Exchange Visitor status. Your responsibilities/purpose at Clemson should not be different from the original invitation to visit the University.
  2. Refrain from unauthorized employment – you are only eligible to take part in research/teaching duties based on the information provided to IS for your initial application for a Form DS-2019.
  3. Have a valid, unexpired Form DS-2019 with you at all times.
  4. Obtain and maintain health insurance that meets the minimum requirements as defined by the US Department of State (submit Form IS-206 to our office). At a minimum, insurance shall have the coverage outlined below. Here is a list of insurance companies that work with Exchange Visitors. In addition, the insurance policy offered by Redfern will meet the insurance requirements. Note: Medical insurance offered by Clemson University's Human Resources, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, does not meet the J-1 medical insurance requirements. Supplemental insurance will need to be purchased. 
    • medical benefits of at least $50,000 per person, per accident or illness
    • repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
    • expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $10,000
    • shall not have a deductible that exceeds $500 per accident/illness
  5. Report changes in your local/residential address within 10 days of the move. Departmental address or P.O. boxes cannot be submitted. This information is then forwarded to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you are from a country for which the US government requires “Special Registration”, please visit IS to obtain a Form AR-11SR to submit to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  6. Maintain a valid passport at all times.
  7. When you are about to depart Clemson University, please complete Form IS-90: Departure Verification. If you have maintained your status, you may remain in the US for up to 30 days (“grace period”) after the completion of your program.

Extension of Your J-1 Exchange Visitor Status

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor at Clemson University, you are eligible to request an extension of your non-immigrant status if the need for additional time is based on legitimate concerns of your sponsoring department. You can determine if you require an extension of your DS-2019 by looking at the expiration date found in Section 3 of the document. Requests for extensions of status can be made no earlier than 60 days prior to the expiration of your current document and may be requested for one year intervals. Please note, a request for an extension of your status must be made before your current DS-2019 expires.

To request an extension of your J-1 Exchange Visitor status, please have your department complete and submit page 1 of Form IS-200 and return it to our office with the required supporting documentation. Financial documents verifying coverage for the entire period of the extension is required. Once an extension has been granted, updated medical insurance coverage for the extended period must be submitted to our office.  If possible, updated medical insurance coverage documentation should be submitted with the extension request. 

Travel and Visas

To re-enter the US, or to apply for a new entry visa, please review the information below to make sure you prepare the necessary documentation:

J-1 Scholar/Professor/Specialist:
  1. valid and signed DS-2019 with a recent travel signature (less than six months old is recommended)
  2. valid passport
  3. valid J-1 visa *
  4. your Tiger 1 Card
  5. if you are applying for a new visa: original bank statements, a letter verifying your funding
  6. letter from your sponsoring department stating that you are meeting your responsibilities and, to the best of their knowledge, have been maintaining your J-1 status
  7. if you have an J-2 dependent, they will need items a, b, c (J-2 visa) listed above

* If you are a citizen of Canada and hold a Canadian passport, an entry visa is not required to enter the US from Canada.   

Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR): An expired US entry visa is considered to be automatically extended to the date of re-entry as long as that visa has not been cancelled, and an application for a new visa has not been submitted. AVR is applicable to travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days.

  1. do not surrender your I-94 card when you leave the US (if the officer requests your I-94 card, politely explain to them that you are taking advantage of AVR)
  2. only travel for less than 30 days to the territory where AVR is applicable (travel to PR China via Canada does not qualify for AVR)
  3. citizens of Mexico must have a valid visa to re-enter from Mexico
  4. citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba may not take advantage of AVR

Obtaining a new visa: A visa to the US may only be obtained at a US Embassy or Consulate outside of the United States. When applying for a new visa, please contact the consulate you will visit to determine if an appointment is required, if you are eligible to apply for a visa at that location, the documentation required for the application, and if you need an entry visa to visit the country where the US Embassy is located. You may find the websites of all US Embassies and Consulates by visiting:

Obtaining a US Visa in Canada or Mexico: You may be eligible to apply for a US Visa in Canada or Mexico. The locations of US Consulates in Canada include: Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa (embassy), Quebec City, Toronto, and Vancouver. The locations of US Consulates in Mexico include: Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, and Tijuana.  Special note for Mexican Consulates: you can apply for a new visa of the same type in Mexico, but Mexican embassies no longer allow you to apply for a visa of a new type.  For example, an J-2 dependent can no longer go to Mexico to apply for a visa to change status from J-2 to J-1. 

You may schedule an appointment by telephone:
1-900-443-3131 (from the US)
1-900-451-2778 (from Canada)
As this is a ‘900’ number, a charge is applied to your phone bill. Calls cannot be made from a cell phone, public phone, or by using a calling card.

You may schedule an appointment by Internet: (you will need a valid credit card). Each appointment will cost approximately $15.00 (fee subject to change).

When considering applying for a new visa, please keep the following in mind:

  1. If you cannot attend your scheduled appointment, please cancel it within a timely manner as you may still be charged.
  2. If you miss your appointment, or do not cancel in time, you will be prohibited from setting another appointment within three months of the original date.
  3. If you apply for a new visa, AVR is no longer applicable.
  4. If the visa is denied, you must return to your home country – you will not be permitted to return to the US.
  5. If you are subject to a security check, you cannot re-enter the US while the check is pending nor can you use AVR. f. Will you need a visa to enter Canada or Mexico? 

For information, please contact the respective consulates of those countries:

Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta
Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta

Travel Signatures for J-1 Exchange Visitors:

  1. submit your DS-2019 to IS for a travel validation signature
  2. please inform IS if you will be applying for a new visa so we can verify that you will be taking the correct documents
  3. submit your request at least two weeks before you wish to travel as we will need to verify that you have been maintaining your status with your department
  4. a travel signature is valid for one year, unless noted otherwise on your DS-2019, but it is best to obtain one every six months

Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors

International Services can assist a J-1 Exchange Visitor in inviting their dependents to US in J-2 status. Please note a dependent is defined as a spouse or an unmarried child under the age of 21.

Dependents entering the US in J-2 status may pursue part- or full-time degree-seeking coursework and may apply for employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

To invite your dependent to the US, please submit a request to IS to obtain a DS-2019 “to allow dependents to enter the US”. Your application should include a completed Form IS-290: Request for J-2 Dependent, as well as verification of funding for you and your dependent. The current monthly living expense for a spouse is $500 and $365 per child. You will need to demonstrate funding for you and your dependents for the entire period of your DS-2019.

When the DS-2019 for your dependent has been processed, you will then send it to them with original financial documents to show complete financial support so they may apply for their J-2 visa. Please note, the financial documents submitted to IS will not be returned to you.

U.S. Social Security Number

J-1 Exchange Visitors who are not students may be eligible for a US Social Security Number (SSN). To be eligible to apply for an SSN, you will need a written offer of employment from a U.S. employer and have the necessary documents to prove legal authorization to work in the United States.  Information on the application process for an SSN will be provided to you upon your check-in with International Services.  The Social Security Administration is the agency that ultimately determines whether or not a J-1 Exchange Visitor is eligible for an SSN. 


South Carolina Drivers License

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you may apply for a special South Carolina Drivers License through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Office in Seneca: 

13009 S. Radio Station Road, Seneca, SC 29678

Read information on the required documentation needed to apply for a South Carolina Drivers License. Prior to your visit to the DMV, please request a certification letter from our office to verify your status in the US. Students who are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) will need to provide the number on their drivers license application. Those who are not eligible for an SSN will need to request a Form L-676 from the Social Security Administration in Anderson, SC. You may prepare for your drivers license exam by obtaining a copy of the Driver License Manual (scroll down to the Drivers License Manual section).

Change of Address

Exchange Visitors are required to submit their new address to International Services within 10 days of their move. You should complete Form IS-10 and submit it to IS for your address to be properly updated.

Individuals who are subject to Special Registration will be required to complete and submit a Form AR-11SR to the US Department of Homeland Security in addition to notifying IS.

"Two-Year Rule"

In certain cases, individuals entering the US in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Status may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement (also known as 212(e)). The Exchange Visitor will remain subject to the rule until they have resided and been physically present in the home country/country of last residence for a period of two years.

While IS cannot guarantee to who the rule will be applied, in most cases, Exchange Visitors in the following circumstances are subject:

  1. Exchange Visitors whose program was financed by the US or home country government.
  2. If the skills the Exchange Visitor is coming to develop are in a field that are needed in the home country (as determined by the home country government).  See the 2009 Revised Exchange Visitor Skill List for more information.   

Until the requirement is met or waived, individuals who are subject to the two-year rule are ineligible for an immigrant visa or Permanent Residency, sponsorship for H-1B status, or a change of non-immigrant status within the US.

In the last case, a J-1 subject to the rule may depart the US and return in a new Exchange Visitor category or F-1 student, however the requirement will still apply.

The two-year rule may be waived through submission of an application to the Exchange Visitor’s embassy or consulate. Please note, as this process involves the governments of the US and the home country, expect a lengthy review process.

24-Month Bar: With the recent change to the Exchange Visitor Program by the US Department of State permitting the stays of J-1 Research Scholars and Professors to extend their status to a maximum of five years, a 24 month bar on repeat participation has gone into effect.

If the Exchange Visitor completes his/her Exchange Visitor Program, ends his/her Exchange Visitor Program early, or travels outside of the United States without first discussing travel plans with the International Services Advisor, the Research Scholar or Professor may not be able to return to the US as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a period of 24 months.

Please note, this should not be considered to be the same as the “two-year” rule (explained above) and only applies to J-1 Exchange Visitors who enter the US in the Research Scholar or Professor category.